A good distance from dyi.., p.1

A Good Distance From Dying, page 1


A Good Distance From Dying

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A Good Distance From Dying


  by David Carroll


  Copyright © 2017 by David M Carroll

  All rights reserved. This book or any portion thereof may not be reproduced or used in any manner whatsoever without the express written permission of the publisher except for the use of brief quotations in a book review.

  Printed in the United State of America

  First Printing, 2017

  ISBN 1-5452427-9-8


  For Misty, Megan, Andrew, Grace and Katherine. Who have lived with these character for almost as long as I have.

  C H A P T E R O N E

  My name is Charlie Collins, and what you are holding in your hands is my account of the decline of global civilization. Why did I take the time to write all of this down? To tell you the truth, I’m not really sure. The thought settled into my head early on as the world spiraled out of control and in the end, it was a desire I just couldn’t shake. I think it all goes back to Rebecca Brickey. She was my girlfriend a very, very long time ago and she kept journals about everything. Everyday she would document what had happened to her then go back and read them years later. She said it gave her perspective on where she had come from and where she was now and how she had changed in the process of living. After everything that's happened, I figured why not start documenting that process as well.

  So here we are. The question I'm now faced with is how do you start one of these things? After quite a bit of thought I’ve decided that I have to start with the cold hard truth, one that I am not happy about.

  You see this accounting only exists due to the unfortunate arrival of a tour bus full of dead people. And like all things zombie there is one common factor that can’t be ignored. All books, TV shows and movies that involve the dead usually share an opening theme. If you are new to all of this, please allow me to open your eyes to one of the most idiotic consistencies of dead world.

  Dang near all zombie stories start with the lead character waking up after some undetermined, yet lengthy, period of time spent unconscious. This unconsciousness could be caused by any number of factors; a gun shot, car crash, even untold health issues. If you can think it up, it’s been used to put some poor schmuck in a coma. Now, why do I say this is idiotic? Let’s look at it logically. The human body can go a good while without food. It will eventually start breaking the body itself down in order to get the nutrients it needs to survive. However, the body can only make it a matter of days without water. Even if you’re in the hospital, on an IV, you’re no better off. The fluids in those bags run out in hours, not days. So, if you happen to be comatose when the dead start rising from the grave, you will be dead of dehydration long before you can wake up twentyeight days later to find out the world is screwed.

  With that being a pet peeve of mine you can imagine how embarrassing it is for this to begin with me waking up not once, but twice. I guess sometimes life really does imitate art.

  The first time I popped awake was at six forty-three in the morning. I know what you're thinking, "Wow, Charlie, that's really specific." And yes, it is. I woke up seventeen minutes till seven, which meant, by the time I would be able to get to work, I would be fifteen minutes late.

  Why did I wake up late, you ask. It had something to do with a large pepperoni, sausage and extra cheese pizza. A two liter of Pepsi and my X-Box. Those three things combined to form the perfect storm which led to me falling asleep on the couch instead of in my bedroom which is where my alarm clock lives.

  I would love to be able to tell you this was the first time I have faced this problem, but I can't. I have been at odds with the specifics of time on several occasions over the past few years. As it was with the other instances, so it was now, I was going to be late for work. Being late gives you an occurrence. Six occurrences and you are fired. I was under no illusions as to what would happen if that was the case. No longer getting a paycheck would lead to me getting evicted. I really didn't like my apartment, but it was a nice enough place for me to store my stuff. I didn't want to have to leave it. And let’s be honest, if I were to get shown the door I would have nowhere to live except my van. And how many nights can you sleep in WalMart's parking lot before the manager is knocking on your door asking for your share of the rent.

  However, as bad as my situation was, it wasn't hopeless. I had been here before. I knew what must be done. It was something that I had learned relatively early in my working career.

  Lesson number one when arriving to work late, as taught to the masses from the Slacker Handbook, reads as follows: “If one finds themselves late to work there is no need to panic. Panic is, and always will be, your enemy. Once you get to work sneak to your machine and begin working. If nobody is waiting at your machine to bust you, proceed to the next step. If there is somebody waiting to bust you, simply give them a sheepish smile and tell them you're sorry. Say that you were in the bathroom and have had diarrhea all night. Most people will drop the conversation at that point. Once lunch time rolls around go tell your supervisor that you forgot to clock in and ask if they will put you on the clock manually. They know you're lying, but most managers will go ahead and do it just to get you out of their office so they can spend more time playing on their phone."

  As sad as it is, It's the truth. I have done this more than a few times. It works. One hundred percent guaranteed.

  I used these lessons and made my way to my machine only to find that my friend Sasquatch already had it running. Sasquatch, or Sass for short, is one of my closest friends. He is also the lead operator of my machine, which makes him my boss, kind of.

  “You fall asleep on the couch again?” he asked.

  “Shut up Sass. I’m here now.”

  “Should I assume I will be putting you into the system around lunch time?” he said with a smile.

  “Maybe.” I said, which only made him laugh. “Not that I mind, but why are you here?"

  He shrugged his shoulders. “Nothing else to do today so they put me with you, at least for the time being.”

  This was good news. My machine does a lot. It takes printed sheets of paper, cuts them into individual playing cards, rounds of the corners, collates the cards into decks, shrink wraps the decks and kicks them onto a table to be packed away in bins. However, due to the brilliance of German engineering my machine can easily be ran by one person. Usually I'm alone all day except for breaks and lunch. Having Sass with me means my normally easy day just got boringly easy. In my opinion, it is always good to start the week as slow as possible. It’s kind of like tip toeing into a swimming pool, it just helps you get acclimated better. To bad it didn't last. By ten o'clock Sass had already been pulled off my machine and was up in the rafters getting things together for second shift to hand pack some of the games we make. That was when the world decided it was done with the old routine and wanted a new one.

  Behind my machine there is a block wall which cuts the production floor in half. Between it and my machine there is a narrow walk way. This is where I have to go to empty my waste strips every two hours. This is where I was when the world announced its desire for change.

  As I dumped my last basket into the waste bin, I heard a loud "BOOM". I looked around and saw that most of the other workers were looking up in surprise, it seemed like they were expecting the ceiling to come crashing down on us. Then the sound came again, “BOOM!” The sound was louder this time and I felt the floor tremble beneath me. I looked at the block wall and I could see little puffs of dust coming out of the mortar between the blocks. Then the third "BOOM" hit.

  The ground shook violently as this blast of sound rolled through the factory. The third
wave was much more violent than the previous two. I felt the concrete floor buck under my feet and saw that the block wall was beginning to break apart. With a mounting sense of doom, I saw that it was going to collapse on top of me. The only hope I had was to dive for cover. The only thing I had to dive under was my machine. I flung myself towards safety.

  That's when everything went black.

  C H A P T E R T W O

  “You will never amount to much in this life.”

  This bit of good news was given to me by my high school guidance councilor. I hate to admit it, but over the years I came to believe her. Once I accepted this statement as fact, I simply quit trying. I became apathetic about my future. My grades, which weren’t good to start with, took a nose dive. I don’t blame this on anyone but myself. I chose to believe the words of a woman who was buried under a landslide of frustration, mostly due to my actions. But even taking that into account, saying that to somebody, especially a kid, is pretty harsh. How do you get to the point where you think it’s perfectly fine to tell somebody something like that? How much bad must be dumped on you over the course of your life for you to feel its perfectly acceptable to crush somebody like that? Everyone likes to dream that they can make it to that golden ring some day, even if they know in the back of their mind that it isn’t meant to be. I sat in a cramped guidance councilor’s office dumbstruck as someone took my golden ring and tossed it into the trash. The worse part? I believed her. I accepted that there was no light at the end of the tunnel. I let myself believe that all roads led to darkness.

  When I woke up that metaphorical darkness was realized and absolute. As you can imagine, this led to a few questions. Unfortunately, every question had the same answer. "Why is it dark? Is it night time?" The answer, “I don’t know”. "Where am I? Am I in my apartment?" Again, the answer was, “I don’t know”. Then the most important question I could ask, “Why is the answer to all of these questions 'I don’t know'?" The answer, of course, was “I…I don’t know.”

  I closed my eyes for a few seconds then opened them again. Nothing had changed. The darkness remained. More unnerving than the darkness though was the quiet. The silence was so loud that it seemed to have an existence of its own. This silence smirked at me and dared me to disturb its slumber. This was a dare which I knew would have disastrous repercussions if I were to accept it. How did I know that? That's an easy answer.

  I, like most everyone, have woken up in complete darkness and had no clue where I was or how I got there? I know what you’re supposed to do in this situation. You sit there, in the dark, and try to convince yourself you’re safe. Slowly you begin to revisit your day. What led to you being here, in the dark, in this strange place? You’re hoping you can remember something, anything, that will make sense of it all.

  Eventually your eyes begin to adjust and you see something familiar that clues you into the wheres and whys of the situation. You realize that you were safe the entire time. You comfort yourself with the knowledge that the only people who have a reason to be scared when waking up confused in the dark are victims of serial killers or members of the mafia.

  Take just a moment to imagine the fear that would begin to eat away at your resolve if your eyes didn’t adjust to the dark. This was my world. I raised my head to get a better look and my forehead cracked into a hard piece of metal that was sitting about two feet above me. I lowered myself back down to the floor holding my head and mentally going down the list of every curse word I had ever learned. But I didn’t say anything out loud. It was the silence which bought my restraint. I felt that if I so much as sighed I would be punished quickly and decisively. I felt around my surroundings and slowly began to remember what had happened and where I was. I was at work. I was at my machine. Well, technically I guess I would have to say I was under my machine. The good news? I wasn’t smashed flat like Wile E Coyote after a failed Road Runner hunt. Instead, I was trapped.

  My machine is huge, like twelve office cubicles huge. Since the open end where my waste strips came out was now buried under a block wall, I knew of only one other way out, and that was due to sheer luck. You see, before the wall had came crashing down I had spent most of the morning fighting my machine. The problem that had eluded my masterful repair skills had been centered around a set of knives. Those knives now set directly over my head. All I had to do was wiggle my way through the support structure and I would be at the access panel for those knives. It was supposed to be locked. It wasn’t. I had spent the morning making adjustments, then running for a minute or two, then making more adjustments. It didn’t take many of those cycles for me to disregard my safety protocols and say, "screw locking that door back every time". This meant there was nothing keeping the door closed. I would be able to pop it open from inside. Freedom would then be mine. Here in lies a lesson few people will ever teach you. There’s an up side to being lazy, it just may save your life one day.

  As I was preparing to crawl my way to freedom, somewhere in the dark there was an explosion of sound. The quiet was shredded by what seemed to be a tool box falling to the floor, the metal tools inside had been ejected and bounced their way across the concrete. Through it all I kept myself silent and still. As the sound began to fade I could hear a softer sound moving in front of my machine. It sounded like somebody was dragging something heavy across the floor. Kind of a step…drag, step…drag sound. I remained still. Instinctually I knew if I made a sound things would end badly for me. It’s like if you were a kid and saw a sign that read “free ice cream”, but the sign was beside a clown holding a chainsaw. You would want the ice cream, but you would have instincts which would tell you clowns plus chainsaws equal nothing good so you would stay away. That’s how I felt about this eerie shuffling sound coming from the dark. I knew if I dared to draw the attention of the step drag monster my life would end slowly and quite painfully. I lay under my machine for a long time after the sound had disappeared before I made my escape.

  Once free I could see that the outer walls of the factory had remained upright. But the inner wall beside my machine had collapsed onto my side of the building. This validated my belief that the wall wasn’t load bearing, Sasquatch owed me a dollar.

  The heavy blocks of the wall now buried over half of my machine. My lunchbox would never again see the light of day. This meant that my cell phone was gone. No calls for help would be made. However, my toolbox had survived the extreme factory makeover so I was able to retrieve my hammer, just in case I had a run in with any monsters as I made my way out of the building. The only other item worth taking was my flashlight. I shut my toolbox and turned to leave. That’s when the world ended for the second time in one day.

  Behind me stood a figure in the darkness. Somehow, someone or something had snuck up on me while I had been taking stock of my supplies. I felt the hairs on the back of my neck begin to stand on end as the thing in the dark stepped closer. To my credit, I didn’t scream as the shadow man reached out and grabbed me.

  C H A P T E R T H R E E

  There have been times in our lives where we have all felt fear. Somebody hides in the closet and waits until you least expect it then they jump out screaming. Not normal screaming either. They scream like a group of Girl Scouts who have encountered a rather large, Girl Scout eating dog as they wander the streets peddling their cookies. In that moment, you feel fear. That is until you realize it’s just that idiot Joey again and you hit him with whatever happens to be close by.

  This wasn’t like that at all. The best way I can describe what I felt upon seeing the shadow man reaching out for me is that Death had snuck up behind me, spun me around till I was dizzy and completely vulnerable, and then had proceeded to kick the living crap out of me. This is a close approximation of my level of fear, but honestly it doesn’t do my terror justice.

  As I watched the shadow figure lean towards me I knew without a shred of doubt that it was the step-drag monster. It had the power to push down block walls and to throw entire buildings i
nto a complete darkness. But now the step-drag monster had learned his best trick. Now he could tiptoe. With this skill, he would be able to add my death to his ever growing tally of bloody conquests. I could feel Fate standing beside me whispering that often overlooked quote from Jurassic Park, “Hold on to your butts!”

  The step-drag monster grabbed both of my shoulders and pulled me towards him. As I came closer to the creature’s face I realized that I recognized this particular monster. My friend Sasquatch said, “Crackhead! What are you still doing in here?”

  It took me a few seconds to compose myself enough to answer. When I found my voice, I explained about the booms and the wall and my machine. I left out any mention of the monster. I was fully aware that some things can’t be understood until experienced firsthand. Sass told me that he had just woken up as well. He had taken a nasty tumble off one of our twenty foot ladders when the sky fell. He also told me that two hours had passed since the first boom had rolled through the factory.

  “Two hours?” I asked myself. Could you really be knocked unconscious for two hours and just wake up with no lasting problems? Did I have a concussion like hall of fame quarterback Kurt Warner? If so would I have to move to Arizona to get one last stab at reliving my glory days? So many questions. My life is like that, every new dilemma brings about a host of new questions. I fear I will never get all the answers I seek.

  “We need to get out of here Crackhead, this building could still collapse. That center support wall was load bearing, with it gone the ceiling could come down at any moment.”

  David -M- Carroll

  This was a good speech, but I could see through his lie.

  He was just trying to get out of owing me a dollar. However, I did agree that exiting stage right would be in our best interest. We made our way to the side entrance of the building. I was incredibly happy that no monsters stepped out at the last second to bar our escape. Despite what Hollywood's horror movies had taught me would happen, we made it to the side entrance unimpeded.

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